Building leadership capacity of caregivers

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018

Winona State University Adult & Continuing Education (ACE) has collaborated with Benedictine Living Community (BLC) of Duluth, LeadingAge Minnesota, and Development Dimensions International (DDI) to design and deliver a high quality customized training program that is building leadership capacity.
In 2017, eighty percent of the BLC leadership team members had two years or less in their role. ACE facilitated a training needs assessment with the BLC team in partnership with DDI, a global human resources consulting firm. The needs assessment identified an opportunity to support the BLC team through the delivery of a behavior-based leadership training series.

BLC applied for a competitive grant through LeadingAge MN, an organization composed of providers of senior living, residential support services, adult day services and in-home care for Minnesota’s older adults. BLC was awarded a workforce-training grant to fund emerging and proven workforce strategies and increase the quality, quantity and capacity of caregivers.

Workshops were scheduled at regular intervals and held onsite at BLC in Duluth throughout the year.

Topics have included:

  • Communicating for leadership success,
  • Coaching for peak performance,
  • Addressing poor performance,
  • Resolving workplace conflict,
  • Creating a service culture,
  • Building and sustaining trust,
  • Gallup’s Strengths Based Leadership

Barb Wessberg, Administrator and CEO of Benedictine Living Community, delivered a presentation at the LeadingAge MN State Conference held in Saint Paul this past Feb. 2018. Her presentation highlighted the partnership and benefits gained by the leadership team from the training. Research suggests that retention of employees improves with well-trained strong leaders who can coach and encourage people to be successful. BLC Duluth is currently tracking 90-day and one year retention and both are trending in the positive direction.

Winona State ACE is proud of this ongoing partnership. Julie Kiehne, WSU ACE Business Outreach Coordinator, says, “It has been rewarding to see how the BLC team members have a greater awareness of their natural talents and how to leverage them in their work.” “Their staff live the Benedictine mission and cores values in their day-to-day health care ministry.”

Barb Wessberg, Administrator and CEO of Benedictine Living Community, says, “We have a commitment to bring together the greatest program and people to enhance the quality of life for older adults. The ACE partnership with DDI has helped us grow to be a stronger leadership team.” “We take great pride in our heritage and in the care, compassion and competence of our staff.”

A plan for continued training and learning at BLC is in the works with application of the Strengths Based Leadership program. DDI trainer, Lisa Jean Smith, says, “I look forward to continuing our relationship with BLC to help them achieve their noble mission.”

The Benedictine Living Community of Duluth is 475 associates strong and provides the region’s only full continuum of care offering short-term rehabilitation, skilled nursing care, senior housing, memory care, adult day services, outpatient therapy, and preschool. Our core values of Hospitality, Stewardship, Respect and Justice frame the vision of our ministry of care.

Customized Training at Winona State University is designed to meet the workforce needs of Southeastern Minnesota and the Tri-State region by helping industries and organizations create high-performance work environments, enhance employee knowledge and skills, and address skill-gaps through training tailored to individual needs. For more information on business collaboration and workforce training opportunities through WSU, contact Julie Kiehne at or call 507.457.5080.

Tailoring technology training to fuel our Rochester area workforce

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018

This month, Winona State University-Rochester (WSU-R), Destination Medical Center (DMC), and Collider Coworking hosted an Information Technology (IT) Open House event in Rochester. The purpose of this event was to assess local technology training needs and solicit feedback to guide the development of future educational programming that will be responsive to growing workforce demands.

Attendees enjoyed a gallery walk revealing the findings of recent research conducted by WSU-R that assessed the educational priorities of those who work in or interact with the IT industry in our region. The results confirmed a need for the development of instructor-led, online, or in-person/blended modules in the most relevant technology languages. The data also suggested a strong interest in the flexibility of non-credit, professional modules that could, when combined with a capstone or portfolio assessment, qualify for degree credit.

Dr. Linda Kingston, Winona State University’s Assistant VP of Distance Learning & Summer Session, believes collaboration is key to meeting current and future IT community needs. “Our goal is to collaborate with Rochester Community and Technical College to develop curriculum that will meet the short-term training needs of our industry partners while providing opportunities to access credit toward degree completion at either the Associate or Baccalaureate degree level. We hope to have a completed product available to incumbent workers within the coming academic year,” said Kingston.

The IT Open House also featured an expert industry panel that facilitated a conversation about IT in Rochester, talent and educational needs in the field, and how organizations of higher education can help to fill the gaps. The panel included David Borrillo of CoreLogic, Nadia Wood of The Hybrids, and Chris Lukenbill of Fresh with Edge. The panelists shared how their companies are solving problems in today’s marketplace, the IT training gaps they see in the community, and methods to attract and hire the right talent for a startup business. Chris Lukenbill, founder of Fresh with Edge, said “When you’re trying to find people that are willing to take that same jump, and to a certain degree when you’re a small company, you have to find people that are okay without that kind of security.”

WSU-R, DMC and Collider agree that technology is vital for improving productivity, enhancing convenience, and providing increased opportunity for economic growth throughout the region. “Technology is a cornerstone of long-term economic prosperity,” says Lisa Clarke, DMC Economic Development Agency Executive Director. “It fosters innovation and helps create jobs. DMC is proud to partner with Winona State University–Rochester to explore the growing IT education needs in our community for today and in the future.”

For more information about the IT Training Initiative, please contact: Julie Kiehne, Winona State University, at 507.457.5088 or

Winona State University-Rochester offers a wide variety of programming for both transfer and graduate students. Whether it’s business, computer science, education, nursing, social work, or individualized studies – we are proud to continue serving the southeast region of Minnesota with distinction. We endeavor to provide students with individual paths to continue their education and make an impact in the community around them, just as our alumni have been for the past 100 years. 

Destination Medical Center (DMC) is a unique 20-year economic development initiative. The $5.6 billion plan is the largest in Minnesota’s history. With the expansion of Mayo Clinic and DMC growth, Rochester is a global destination for health and wellness and so much more. 

Collider Coworking is a hub for local and visiting entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers to work, learn and connect. We offer desk and conference room space to our members and visitors in a unique historic setting. Collider also offers monthly events and educational opportunities to fuel our growing entrepreneurial community. 

Winona State University & Road Scholar Celebrate 20 Years of Norwegian Heritage Partnership

Published: Friday, Dec. 15, 2017

For the past 20 years, Winona State University Adult & Continuing Education (ACE) has offered the Road Scholar program in partnership with the Commonweal Theatre Company and Cottage House Inn in Lanesboro, Minnesota. Led by Road Scholar Coordinator, Pauline Christensen, the partners designed and delivered a unique program to immerse students in a blend of professional theatre, Norwegian heritage, Amish Culture, scenic bikeways and rural life of southeastern Minnesota. Attendees explored the arts, historic architecture and cutting-edge theater.

Susan Floy, a Road Scholar student from Thornton, Iowa, commented, “Compared to other commercial tours, Road Scholar tours are always a learning experience wherever you go. These tours stretch your horizons and put you in places you never dreamed of visiting. You meet many new people and explore new locations along the way.”

2017 marked the culmination of 20 years of partnership with the Commonweal Theatre. “Through two decades of Road Scholar programming we have shown more than 400 life-long learners how we take a play from the written page to a full, professional production on the stage,” said Commonweal Theatre Executive Director Hal Cropp. “It was also important to us to include classes about life in rural southeast Minnesota. Teaching people with active curiosity developed by a lifetime of experience has always been one of the highlights of our year.”

In addition to being recognized for her work as the Road Scholar Coordinator, Pauline Christensen was also honored with the Distinguished Faculty/Staff Award at Winona State University in October, 2017. Pauline shared, “Throughout my time at WSU, I worked with wonderful people all along my personal and professional journey. The Road Scholar program gave me the opportunity to meet interesting lifelong learners who enriched my life.”

Winona State ACE is thrilled to continue developing new Road Scholar programs to offer high quality, affordable educational opportunities for adults. WSU ACE believes learning is a lifelong process. Sharing new ideas, challenges and experiences is rewarding in every season of life.

Road Scholar offers short-term, low-cost residential programs in the U.S., Canada, and over 70 other countries. An international network of educational institutions collaborates to create and coordinate programs to offer personal fulfillment to today's increasingly vigorous and independent older adults. For more information about Road Scholar, go to or call 877.426.8056.

Since 1989, the professional artists of the Commonweal have brought to life soulful stories told with honesty and creativity. Located in the heart of southeast Minnesota’s bluff country, Lanesboro (pop. 750) is home to the company’s theatre in its historic downtown. For more information about the Commonweal Theatre, visit or call 800.657.7025. 

High Caliber Training to Support High Caliber Care

Published: Monday, Nov. 13, 2017

Since 2016, Winona State University Adult & Continuing Education (ACE) has collaborated with Saint Anne of Winona (SAW) to design and deliver a high-quality customized training Saint Anne of Winonaprogram that is building the capacity of managers and the core leadership team at SAW.

Two years ago, SAW closely examined the training and development needs of their current and upcoming leaders, and it became evident that there was an opportunity to establish a common language around management strategies. There are 30 individuals in management and supervisory roles at SAW, some with extensive experience in leadership, and others new to the role of manager.

The SAW team is 275 associates strong and includes healthcare professionals from many disciplines including nursing, culinary services, environmental services, plant operations, therapy, recreation, administration, and support services. Strong leadership in each of these areas is key to ensuring that the care and services provided are consistent with the Benedictine core values of Hospitality, Stewardship, Respect and Justice.

Winona State ACE is thrilled to answer the call of meeting the training needs at SAW and is proud of this continuous partnership. Julie Kiehne, Business Outreach Coordinator, says, “The SAW team has been a delight to work with. The collaboration has been a win for the team as they gain expertise and strengthen their leadership roles.” Helping the SAW team gain new knowledge and advance their noble work as a care organization puts the Winona State mission of contributing to a “Community of learners improving our world” into action.

The processes of developing an annual training plan for SAW starts with their leadership team identifying the highest priority training and support needs for the year. The WSU ACE team then offers suggestions for curriculum to cover these topics. Workshops are scheduled at regular intervals and held onsite at SAW throughout the year.

Topics have included:

  • Communicating for leadership success
  • Addressing poor performance
  • Building and sustaining trust
  • Resolving workplace conflict
  • Engaging and retaining talent
  • Driving change

Each, workshop includes a trained facilitator, specified learning outcomes, interactive materials, the opportunity to practice new skills, and practical tools for applying learning in real life situations. Jodi Barton, Administrator and CEO of Saint Anne of Winona, says, “The feedback from the SAW team has been overwhelmingly positive.”

As 2018 draws near, a plan for continued training and learning at SAW is already in the works. “The opportunity to learn together and build our capacity as a team has been invaluable,” Barton says. “We are truly thankful to WSU ACE for offering a program of this caliber to the Winona area!”

Saint Anne of Winona (SAW) has served the immediate Winona and surrounding areas since 1962. They strive to create a senior living community where health, independence and choice come to life. This is accomplished, in part, by offering a continuum of care and support for older adults and their families on a campus setting. Services at SAW include short term transitional care, long term skilled nursing care, memory care, assisted living, adult day center and a certified nursing assistant training center. For more information about Saint Anne, visit or call 507.454.3621.

Customized Training at Winona State University is designed to meet the workforce needs of Southeastern Minnesota and the Tri-State region by helping industries and organizations create high-performance work environments, enhance employee knowledge and skills, and address skill-gaps through training tailored to individual needs. For more information on business collaboration and workforce training opportunities through WSU, contact Julie Kiehne at or call 507.457.5080.